Knowledge and practices surrounding zoonotic disease among Mongolian herding households

Amber N. Barnes, Uyanga Baasandavga, Anu Davaasuren, Battsetseg Gonchigoo, Gregory C. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The strong bond between herder and livestock was forged centuries ago in rural Mongolia and remains an element of national pride and a cornerstone to the economy. However, semi-nomadic herders frequently live at the edge of human health care, veterinary services, and municipal infrastructure like water and sanitation. This study examined zoonotic risk factors and disease perceptions among 150 rural herding households. Less than half of the participating households used an improved drinking water source (43.3%), and the majority of herding families did not use an improved sanitation service (68.5%). Almost half of the study population practise open defaecation (49.7%). Hand washing occurs after animal contact (78%) but not after defaecation/urination (76.6%). Domestic animal ownership and/or presence was reported at every household, and exposure risks varied by the gender of the household member. Most households had knowledge about zoonotic disease transmission (74%) but far less recognized the risk of reverse zoonoses, or human-to-animal disease transmission (53.3%). Few survey respondents believed that animal contact is a risk factor for diarrhoeal disease (8.7%). This study highlights zoonotic disease exposure risks from animal husbandry practices and inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene access and behaviours among rural herding households. Zoonotic disease prevention among Mongolian herders should be implemented using a One Health framework to simultaneously address human, animal, and environmental health concerns of rural herding households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal husbandry
  • Herder
  • Hygiene
  • One Health
  • Sanitation
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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